Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-hd9dq Total loading time: 0.847 Render date: 2022-10-04T08:06:27.774Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": true, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

7 - Pathways to African Ethnicity in the Americas: African National Associations in Cuba during Slavery

from Part II - Africa and the Atlantic World

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2017

Get access

Summary

The Atlantic slave trade and its legacy represents one of the strongest currents that shaped and continues to influence identities in the Americas. The largest forced migration in human history uprooted more than ten million Africans from their home communities and scattered them throughout the Americas. Although ownership of human beings in one form or another had been a feature common to most societies of the world until about 1800, the racial component of slavery in the Americas, whereby people of white European ancestry owned people of black African ancestry, made the institution distinct from its Old World precedents. As a result, over time, the identification as black or white often defined the boundaries that separated slave and free, rich and poor, employer and employee, and ruler and subject. In this chapter, I shift the attention away from racial identities shaped by New World slavery to examine how Africans identified themselves in their new Cuban surroundings. Africans recognized that a white ruling class of European ancestry governed Cuban society and that all people of the African diaspora shared a common association with racial oppression. However, Africans did not define themselves only in racialized terms of European derivation.

Africans in Cuba voluntarily formed associations based upon a common ethnicity that often reflected a shared geographic origin, language, and common culture. Prevalent in colonial society, these collective organizations became known as cabildos de nación to reflect the voluntary grouping by common ethnic identity of the numerous African “nations” forcibly imported to Cuba. The Spanish term cabildo represents the English language equivalent of a town council or a town government. Consequently, the labeling of these societies as cabildos provides some indication of how they functioned as representative bodies for African nations by providing political, administrative, social, and cultural services. Almost all the activities of the cabildos revolved around the ownership of a home that served numerous functions vital to the society: a boarding-house which rented rooms; a conference center for holding meetings and reunions; a school for education and training in the artisan trades; a bank by collecting membership dues, offering loans, and even purchasing the freedom for slaves; a restaurant through food services such as the “plate of the day”; a theater for dances; and even a funeral parlor. The cabildo house provided a sacred space for ethnic solidarity in a society increasingly divided along racial lines between slavery and freedom.

Type
Chapter
Information
Sources and Methods in African History
Spoken Written Unearthed
, pp. 118 - 144
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2003

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×